In the fight against Vermont Gas’ proposedAddison County natural gas expansion, it’s largely been landowners piping up with concerns about the project, which would run a natural gas transmission line south through Vergennes and Middlebury — and potentially on to Ticonderoga, N.Y. Until now.
A rally last night at Champlain Valley Union High School illustrated that property owners aren’t the only ones balking at the pipeline extension. A growing grassroots coalition of environmentalists and workers’ rights advocates, singing solidarity songs and brandishing banners, gathered in front of the high school to make their objections known prior to the start of a Public Service Board public hearing on the project.
Chief among their concerns is the environmental impact of extending a pipeline that carries fossil fuel deeper into Vermont. In particular, the protestors are unhappy that the pipeline would carry a portion of gas obtained in Canada using hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking” — Vermont Gas concedes that this is the case. Vermont lawmakers last year passed a law making the Green Mountain State the first in the country to ban fracking. It’s a technique oil and gas companies love, because it opens up vast reserves of shale gas previously too costly or difficult to extract. Environmentalists have long raised the alarm, however, pointing to problems with groundwater contamination, waste water disposal and even earthquakes in places where fracking is underway.